Casino Expansion Bill Proposes Gambling Venues on Three Greek Islands

The government of Greece is planning to vote on a bill that would, among other things, allow for the construction of new casinos in popular tourism hubs around the country and for the relocation of existing gambling venues.

The casino expansion and relocation provisions come as part of a planned overhaul of the country’s gambling regulatory regime. It is important to note that the industry reform is pushed by the Greek Ministry of Finance. The gambling overhaul bill was introduced earlier this year and basically calls for a certain amount of liberalization of the Greek gambling market and for changes in the way the provision of different types of gambling services is regulated.

The bill’s provisions are concerned with both the land-based and the online gambling sectors. As far as Greece’s land-based casino industry is concerned, the legislative piece will allow the construction of casino venues in popular tourism spots around the country, including the islands of Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini.

The gambling bill actually includes a proposal for issuing three new casino licenses for the above-mentioned three locations. In addition to this, six existing casinos will be allowed to relocate their operations under the legislative piece, which is currently under consideration by the Greek government.

If the bill gains the necessary support among lawmakers, it could see the relocation of Regency Casino Mont Parnes, the only casino in the Greek capital Athens. Other casinos that will be relocated will include the facilities in the cities of Thessaloniki, Rio, Loutraki, Florina, and Alexandroupolis.

According to the findings of a report tacked onto the reform bill, the relocation of the existing gaming venues and the construction of new such venues would establish and improve the connection between the country’s gambling and tourism industry. In addition, Greek lawmakers have expressed interest in the promotion of the so-called integrated resort model that includes casino facilities along with shopping, food and beverage, and entertainment ones.

What Comes Next for the Gambling Overhaul Bill?

The gambling overhaul bill is expected to be voted by the Greek government before the Christmas holidays. If approved by then, its provisions will then be enacted on January 1, 2020. As mentioned above, the legislative piece concerned with both the Southeastern European country’s land-based and online gambling sectors.

Among other things, the bill will also allow for the creation of a licensing system that will make it possible for interested international online gambling operators to apply for licenses and enter the local market. The Hellenic Gaming Commission, a semi-autonomous regulatory body, will see its authority extended and will be tasked with core responsibilities for licensing both online gaming operators and land-based casino owners.

The bill also calls for the introduction of a flat tax rate on casinos. At present, the nation’s gambling venues are taxed at between 22% and 35%.

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